Gary Indiana

” Many years before the cultural fashion for art and polemics about the body, Nicola’s work centered itself in a preoccupation about the human body as a generic substance that we all share: heads, arms, bellies, breasts, legs, asses, feet, differentiated by sex, the basic way, but unified in the sense that we all operate with the same interchangeable equipment and as members of the same species, experience common emotions, common events, common needs. From the beginning, Nicola’s works literalize this theme in the construction of skins that contain more than one person, showing the long side of a monatic life of individuals; there is a group life that binds us together, a group destiny in which our fate is decided by our ability to inhabit the same social skin, to work and play together, to see our differences as colors in the same continuous fabric. Nicola’s work reminds us that we are here for each other’s use, to increase the amount of pleasure in the world, it’s utopian and utilitarian. Nicola translates the idea of our bodies as our instruments of being in the world as facts that are always present to us into furniture: sofas and tables and bureaus in the form of body parts, rich in psychological suggestions, but also eminently practical. Nicola’s furniture evokes the organic connectedness of our bodies with the rest of nature, while also imitating the functional, social roles that we play. The aspirations of ourselves as members of a dynamic web with some reciprocal obligations to each other is reflected in Nicola’s documentary films about Abbie Hoffmann and Eva Forest, subjects who define themselves partly by a wish to transform collective reality into more egaletarian and generous forms, but they, like Nicola herself, reject puritanical forms of political didacticism as there is more life than politics in intellectual debates: there is food, sex, conversation, animals, colors, sensations, actions that have no purpose except the pleasure of doing them which is, as Nicola’s work overall suggests, often the worthiest purpose of all.

In her new film, Nicola brings together her art and the narrative vision that pictures physical existence in the most primary and simplified terms, preceding from the point of reduction where the indissoluble bond between physical and spiritual life can most clearly be seen. Humans at this elemental level have a psychic bond~that also links them to the sky, to water, to fire, to the movements of the cosmos. This is the primitive level at which our species is actually the most sophisticated, which can be seen in the rituals of tribes that successfully contain the terror of violence by staging mock battles, in which the goal is not to maim, injure or kill one’s opponents but to neutralize the whole impulse to violence through an ultimately harmless nemesis. This historically is the origin of festivals, for example, where the skills and knowledge learned by the tribes are exchanged at the same time that the gladiatorial rituals take place and the thread of violence is dissolved. Finally the film is a poem about our connection to nature and to each other, as well as the pathos and trauma of our individuation, about music which connects us through the millennia to the pulses in our blood that existed even before we crawled out of the ocean, and about the prime evil world from which we have been forever banished, but which is sometimes recovered in our dreams. ”

Introduction to the screening of “Sand, Sea, Sky” by Gary Indiana
NYC 1994